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  How I Made My Stand;

Making a Dai for a Suiseki by JL Doggett

It is becoming increasingly common in the West to see Suiseki, or viewing stones, being collected and displayed independent of and alongside bonsai. Suiseki are often seen displayed on specially-made stands or dai. Each dai is made for a specific viewing stone and in Japan and China can be bought from specialised wood-carvers. This is not an option in the West but with a little skill a dai can be made by the enthusiast.


Step 1

The length of the stone is 2.5 inches, thickness of ¾ inch, and height of 1 inch. I decided it needed short legs to give the stone more emphasis. I went through my bits and pieces of save wood (Ok that may be a guy thing to save wood scraps, just in case) and chose some 3/8 inch thick mahogany.

 



Making a Dai for a Suiseki

Making a Dai for a Suiseki
Step 2

Assemble the tools. In consideration of doing this article I tried to find readily available tools. The file, sandpaper, marking pen and exacto-knife are fairly common items. The jeweller's saw I have pictured is from my bench but could be replaced with a coping saw. The carving tool I used was a Speed-Ball block carving handle and 4 of the gouge blades that are available for it. All of the tools can be purchased online or at most craft stores. The handle and gouge blades (I used 4 different sizes) was under $15.00 and are a good size for smaller projects. Most craft stores also sell wood carving gouges, but I found them to be too big for this project (they would work well for stones over 5 inches with a simple outline).

Step 3
Start by obtaining the outline of the stone's base. Simply hold the stone firmly on a piece of card and trace around the base with your marking pen. I then cut out the an opening in the card following the line (like colouring, stay inside the line) remember the inside of your line is the outer edge of the stone, if you cut the outside of the line your opening will be too big. Using the cut-out as a template, transfer the out-line to the wood, staying at least 1/4th inch away from the edge.
Making a Dai for a Suiseki

 

 

Making a Dai for a Suiseki

Step 4

To start the carving, I first used the exacto-knife and incised the outline. Hold the knife so the point cuts straight down. This will help prevent splitting out of the wood as you remove it with the gouges. I continued to incise the outline until it was down approximately 1/16th of an inch deep. Once this is done the wood is removed, working from the middle toward the outline. Keep trying the stone to check the fit, paying attention to the irregularities of the stone's base. Remember, once wood is removed it can't be put back. The material under the middle of the stone is less important than along the edge. Extra care needs to be given when cutting close to the outline. Carve the stand deeper for the projections on the base. I carved the stand so that the stone sits in a depression 1/16th of an inch deep.

 

Step 5

When the depression is finished for the stone to sit in, I drew a new out-line 1/8th of an inch outside the parameter of the depression.

Making a Dai for a Suiseki

Making a Dai for a Suiseki

Making a Dai for a Suiseki

 

 

 

 

Using a fine toothed saw, I cut around the piece to the new out-line. Then file and sand to a smooth finish.

Step 6

I drew a line bisecting the stand, low enough that the deepest depression I carved would not extend below the line. Once the bisecting line was drawn, I marked out the placing of the legs by drawing lines across the base to remind myself of where the cuts would be made.

Making a Dai for a Suiseki
Making a Dai for a Suiseki

 

Once the legs were marked out I cut along side each line down to the bisecting line, then along the bisecting line to separate the waste from the stand.

 

Step 7

With the removal of the waste wood, the 5 legs were freed to be carved.

Making a Dai for a Suiseki

Making a Dai for a Suiseki

Making a Dai for a Suiseki

 

 

 

 

I chose to make the feet simple with a slight tapering curve, which were worked with a small file and sandpaper. In the future more complex leg/foot patterns can be practiced on the waste.

Step 8
The entire stand is carefully sanded, being extra finicky when sanding the lip of the depression. Do not try to sand inside the depression. Finally finish as desired, (I used 3 coats of lightly tinted Danish oil) and when ready, insert the stone. I admit this example is a little crude looking. As with bonsai, practice and technique will produce a better product.

Making a Dai for a Suiseki

 

Making a Dai for a Suiseki

 


Copyright 2005 James L. Doggett. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without permission prohibited.


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